Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Pivotal moments

On the bus to work this morning, a moment in my childhood that really changed my perspective came to mind, reminding me of the huge impact that words can have, especially on children. I was raised as a Seventh-day Adventist (SDA), a conservative Protestant religion that worships on Saturday rather than Sunday. I could expound but religion is not my point today.

I was 11 when this occurred and my father had died only a few months before. My family and I attended a medium-sized church called the Loma Linda Filipino SDA Church. One Saturday after services we were all waiting around for the church potluck to begin. The youth pastor approached me and pulled me aside, a bit suprising since he'd never spoken more than a greeting to me before. He then said in no uncertain words, "You're becoming a real recluse," adding a few more sentences along the same lines. I don't remember giving a response, just walking away in state of shock. Later that day (and many times after that) when I had some time to ponder the comment, I wondered how he could have said such a thing when he knew so little about me and when the one fact that he did know (since the funeral had been held at his church) was that my father had died recently and that I was a child in deep grieving. As well, even before his death, my difference as the only Black-Filipino besides my brother among the several hundred members had been keenly felt. I was a pretty quiet as a kid and this feeling of difference did nothing to help things.

This incident was the beginning of my questioning of organized religion. In my childhood mind I wondered how I could believe the things this man was preaching if he could be so thoughtless and blind on a personal level. Alhough this was a childhood simplification of the matter, it still led me down a path of questioning every aspect of religion and my own world view, and for that I am thankful.

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